TV, cellphone, medical businesses key to revival: new chief

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Sony Corp.’s next president and CEO, Kazuo Hirai, vowed Thursday to revive the struggling company, turn around its unprofitable TV business and focus on the mobile phone and medical equipment sectors.

At a joint news conference with current Chairman, President and CEO Howard Stringer in Tokyo, Hirai said he will also focus on strengthening the firm’s digital imaging and video game businesses, and plough resources into the mobile phone division.

But he also pledged to radically restructure unprofitable businesses, saying Sony will either scrap divisions that are unable to turn a profit, or slim them down by outsourcing services or by entering into partnerships with other firms.

“We will review all the businesses drastically and thoroughly,” said Hirai, who is currently Sony’s deputy executive president and will replace Stringer in April.

Some products have become unprofitable simply as a result of flawed business strategies, he added.

Asked at the news conference about Sony’s decline in recent years, Stringer said: “Obviously, I have responsibility. I’m the CEO.”

But he also said outside factors, such as the global financial crisis in 2008 and last year’s floods in Thailand affected the company’s performance.

The 51-year-old Hirai said the TV business, which is expected to post its eight consecutive annual loss in the current year, will remain a crucial part of Sony’s strategy and provide the main platform for users to access the firm’s other goods and services.

“Shutting down or shrinking the TV business would mean cutting links that allow customers to experience Sony’s many services,” he said.

Hirai also emphasized the mobile phone market as an area where Sony can expand by incorporating its digital imaging technologies in smartphones, as well as services such as movies and music.